Background: Teaching procedural skills in a clinical setting is becoming increasingly difficult. Simulators can provide safe and inexpensive skills training. This randomized study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a bronchoscopy simulator in teaching clinical bronchoscopy.
Methods: Three groups of surgical residents were evaluated while performing an intraoperative flexible bronchoscopy. First year (PGY1) residents were randomly assigned to perform bronchoscopy either with (n = 5) or without (n = 5) preprocedural bronchoscopic simulator training (PreOp flexible bronchoscopic simulator, Immersion Medical, Gaithersburg, MD). Residents PGY2 to 3 (n = 3) with prior bronchoscopic experience (> or = 10 bronchoscopies) underwent evaluation without simulator training. Subjects were required to complete a systematic airway examination through a laryngeal mask airway with patients under general anesthesia. Evaluation criteria included procedure time, number of verbal and physical interventions by evaluator, and a rating of exam thoroughness, proficiency, and confidence.
Results: The PGY1 subjects who trained on the simulator required significantly fewer verbal (6.2 +/- 1.6 vs 3.2 +/- 0.8) and physical (1.6 +/- 0.2 vs 0.2 +/- 0.4) cues and performed more systematic examinations (2.6 +/- 0.5 vs 4.4 +/- 0.9 on scale 1 to 5) than those who did not use the trainer. The skill level of PGY1 subjects who worked with the simulator was similar to that of PGY2 to 3 residents experienced in bronchoscopy. Procedural times were not different between groups as the evaluator maintained the pace of the examination using verbal and physical assistance.
Conclusions: One hour of training with the bronchoscopic simulator effectively taught residents basic bronchoscopy and familiarity with airway anatomy. Residents using the trainer performed first-time bronchoscopy nearly as competently as residents experienced with bronchoscopy.